— Noam Chomsky, World Orders: Old and New (via zealotry)
[…] If the federal minimum wage from 1968 were adjusted for inflation it would be $10.50. Instead, although costs and prices have risen sharply, the federal minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25 an hour. It is the lowest of the major industrial countries. Meanwhile, Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart, makes $11,000 an hour. And he is not alone. These corporate chiefs make this much money because they have been able to keep in place a system by which workers are effectively disempowered, forced to work for substandard wages and denied the possibility through unions or the formal electoral systems of power to defend workers’ rights. This is why corporations lavish these CEOs with obscene salaries. These CEOs are the masters of plantations. And the moment workers rise up and demand justice is the moment the staggering inequality of wealth begins to be reversed.
Being a member of the working poor, as Barbara Ehrenreich chronicles in her important book “Nickel and Dimed,” is “a state of emergency.” It is “acute distress.” It is a daily and weekly lurching from crisis to crisis. The stress, the suffering, the humiliation and the job insecurity means that workers are reduced to doing little more than eating, sleeping—never enough—and working. And, most importantly, they are kept in a constant state of fear.
[…] The former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, testifying before Congress, was quite open about the role of debt peonage in keeping workers passive. Greenspan pointed out that since 1980 labor productivity has increased by about 83 percent. Yet real wages have stagnated. Greenspan said this was because workers were too burdened with mortgage debts, college loans, auto payments and credit-card debt to risk losing a job. Household debt in the United States is around $13 trillion. This is only $2 trillion less than the country’s total yearly economic output. Greenspan was right. Miss a payment on your credit card and your interest rates jumps to 30 percent. Fail to pay your mortgage and you lose your home. Miss your health insurance payments, which have been spiraling upwards, and if you are seriously ill you go into bankruptcy, as 1 million Americans who get sick do every year. Trash your credit rating and your fragile financial edifice, built on managing debt, collapses. Since most Americans feel, on some level, as Hudson points out, that they are a step or two away from being homeless, they are deeply averse to challenging corporate power. It is not worth the risk. And the corporate state knows it. [++]
— Justice James C. Nelson, in his dissent of Citizens United.
As reference, the statements “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is the merger of State and corporate power”— Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism—and—“It is hard to tell where government ends and corporate America begins: the transition is seamless and overlapping”— combined should say plenty. (via america-wakiewakie)
What the Fuck Is NAFTA?
Since it was first introduced in 1994, NAFTA has been opposed by labor and student organizations in Mexico, the US, and Canada, the three signatories to this ‘agreement.’
Roughly, NAFTA is an economic law that deregulates capital movement through all three countries. It gives corporations the freedom to move entire operations untaxed, the ability to arbitrate as if they were citizens from those respective countries and, ultimately, the power to dictate the economy. For example, if Intel decides it is cheaper to manufacture processors in a facility in Guadalajara, NAFTA allows them to do so unopposed by the US government. It does not matter that this corporate freedom kills the Mexican IT sector, NAFTA is the law.
When Intel operates in Mexico, the Mexican government is forced to treat Intel as a Mexican corporation and affords them the same right to property as state enterprises. Intel is also not required to pay tariff dues as they used to be decades ago and, in fact, it receives subsidies from the Mexican government. This has effects the Mexican population through diminished tariff revenue for public services and infrastructure, a neoliberal trend present in all three countries.
NAFTA basically dictates that all three governments support corporate control of the economy.
The effects of NAFTA are also felt across economic sectors. For example, the movement of automobile manufacturing to Mexico, where labor laws are rarely enforced, has left large areas of the midwestern United States desolate; the area is referred to as the ‘rust-belt’ due to its abandoned manufacturing facilities.
Mexico’s maquiladoras, then, are obviously no good for Mexicans because they are economic production used to undercut the US worker. The way to undercut US workers is to neglect labor rights somewhere else. As a result, workers living on either side of the border are made more ‘competitive’ but competition within the NAFTA framework is narrowly defined as a demeanor and capacity to work for more time with less pay. NAFTA formally imposes a ‘race to the bottom’ as all workers are forced to participate in an economic competition they cannot possibly survive.
Through NAFTA, US corporations also manipulate the agricultural sector of Mexico. Remember, Mexico is still largely agrarian and many people survive through their own small scale farming operations. US corporations destroy this capacity by exporting lower quality products to Mexican firms and do so with the political protection and subsidies from the US government.
Monsanto, for instance, owns many acres of farm land and receives a federal subsidy for every bushel of corn planted regardless of quality. The subsidy is also given despite it being well known that Monsanto has near monopolistic control over corn and is consolidating control over publicly subsidized research in US universities as well. Monsanto’s federally subsidized corn is dumped into Mexico where Monsanto ‘fixes’ the price of maize - Monsanto and its Mexican subsidiaries raise the price of corn based products at will.
The effect is obvious: In Mexico, tortillas, corn and corn maize have all increased in price. Smaller farming operations are now unviable which displaces Mexican workers, forcing them to seek work in the United States.
Submitted by Ricardo Lezama
It brakes my heart to admit the fact that México is the U.S.’ puppet. NAFTA is the best example of that.
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called “alarmist” for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote “in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media” — controlling almost all of America’s newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies. This was greeted with skepticism at the time. When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market.
In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth."
Probably ‘B’, but only because extraterrestrials won’t look good in suits.
Mike Bloomberg, still the mayor of New York after all these years, has announced a new four-year program to keep prisoners from reoffending after their sentences, funded by $9.6m fromGoldman Sachs. When we said we wanted to see the bankers in the clink, this is not what we meant.
It may sound like a nice philanthropic gesture, but that $9.6m sum isn’t a donation; it’s a loan. As City Hall explained, Goldman is being incentivized to produce results – if recidivism drops by 10%, Goldman gets the money back, and if it drops further then the GS boys will turn a small profit. (One idea for Lloyd Blankfein: if you really want to end up in the black, just hire the ex-offenders to work at Goldman, where I can’t imagine they’d have much trouble fitting in.)
New York’s foray into cash-for-results social services is part of the voguish infatuation with “social impact bonds”, in which a private investor invests in a public service and makes a positive return only if things improve. They are currently all the rage in Britain, whose coalition government espouses a hazy ideology called “the big society” to obscure a much clearer ideology of across-the-board cuts. And they’ve begun to seduce US policymakers. The Goldman-Rikers deal is the first social impact bond in America, though governments from Massachusetts to Ohio are preparing to jump on board.
You might wonder why, since reducing crime and offering better lives to past offenders are obvious social pluses, the government doesn’t just pay for such a program itself. (The usual cries about public sector inefficiency don’t apply. The ex-offender education scheme isn’t a state program; it’s administered by a nongovernmental social enterprise.) Alas, this is the nature of Bloombergism. There is no social problem that can’t be reduced to metrics, no public function that an unaccountable private undertaking can’t perform better, and no incentive like the profit motive.
How much does Bloomberg believe in this new plan? So much so that he is personally guaranteeing to make Goldman whole if the program doesn’t work. Our billionaire mayor’s own philanthropic foundation will cut a $7.2m check to the social service provider with which Goldman is contracting if the bank needs to be repaid. Say what you like about risk and reward; the plan announced Thursday is an exceedingly safe bet for the bank but a giant gamble for us.
There is, of course, nothing new about making money on inmates. The majority of Louisiana’s prisoners are housed in for-profit facilities – and as a grim Times-Picayune exposé recently disclosed, the prisoners are traded around by sheriffs with a financial stake in keeping the cells full to bursting. In some parts of the country it’s so bad that prison megacompanies construct shiny new facilities on spec, in order to pressure local government to take their business: that is to say, to lock people up. So I suppose the transformation of Rikers Island into a Goldman workhouse could have been worse. At least they only make money if recidivism rates go down – though you will not be surprised to learn that in other states Goldman, like most other big banks, has underwritten the bonds to outsource correctional facilities to the private sector.
If this goes well, the Bloomberg team has said, it’ll be the model for all sorts of for-profit social initiatives. Corporations could make money if an adoption agency finds a home for a child, or if you survive a heart attack, or if your kid’s reading scores on one of his five thousand exams increase by such and such percent. This latest neoliberal swindle is the stuff of a million MBA case studies, and the wet dream of a new crop of young, pseudo-beneficent capitalists who think their guilt at profiting from inequality can be assuaged by “humanizing” their businesses. It’s the corporate equivalent of paying extra for the free-range chicken at the market, though now, classically, the corporations have figured out how to profit off their philanthropy as well.
We already know this song. In any situation where the private sector and government are both involved, there’s an implicit guarantee: when it all goes wrong, the corporation can bail and the state has no option but to pick up the slack. It’s dandy enough when privatized rail or for-profit security services are humming along, but when harder times come the corporations, whatever their bushy-tailed do-gooder capitalist roaders may have promised, have no incentive to make things better. Replacing public responsibility with private profit is a one-way bargain. There is no line item for the common good on an annual report.
In such a system the private sector may make money, but ultimately we’re the ones who shoulder all the risk – a situation that the bankers at Goldman will find very familiar. But if we were really serious about reducing recidivism rates, offering second chances to young offenders, improving quality of life in the city, or just about any other public good, there is a much simpler way to do it than through a baroque “social impact bond”. It’s called public spending, and the best way to fund it is to tax, tax, tax. I can think of a bank where we could start.
It’s people like those at Goldman Sachs that have ruined the economy, and manipulated a system involving trillions in debt and derivatives. What’s to stop them from massaging the statistics where mere millions are involved?
“Time is the longest distance between two places.”— Tennessee Williams (via sina-santi2)
Today I discovered I'm a real sexist piece of shit.
Today, I saw a beautiful woman and thought to myself,
“She needs to give a real nigga some...